Students Find Community College a Viable Option
Community colleges are a great and affordable alternative to a four-year college. Essex County College (ECC) and Bergen Community College (BCC) are two colleges that some Nutley High School (NHS) students may choose to attend after graduation.
Community colleges can end up being a fraction of the cost of a four-year college. The average cost for ECC after aid is $7,871 a year and the average cost for BCC is $9,881 after aid a year, whereas the average cost of a four-year college in New Jersey is about $14,360 a year.
BCC specifically ranks number one in the state of New Jersey for associate degree graduates. Alumni from BCC have attended prestigious universities across the country including eight different Ivy League institutions.
BCC offers divisions of Business, Arts, Social Sciences, Health Professions, Humanities, Mathematics, Science, and Technology. ECC offers courses in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Business, Math Engineering Technology, Computer Science, Humanities, Bilingual Studies, Nursing, Health Science, and Social Sciences.
On top of overall lower tuition costs, community colleges also offer more financial aid than a four-year college. Some community colleges may cover transportation and material costs on top of aid with tuition.
Four-year colleges also generally have agreements with community colleges that make it easier for students to transfer in the future. Transfer students, in most cases, are able to earn a bachelor’s degree while only paying for two years of higher tuition.
Jessica Lemire, an English teacher at NHS, attended SUNY Orange, in Middletown, NY. Her concentration was communications as she thought she wanted to go into TV or film production. “My community college had a really good honors program, so I was a part of that, and it was unbelievable. The classes were smaller, we got first pick of the courses, and we also had different classes that other students couldn't take. The small cohort made it easier to make friends, grow academically in a community of similarly-motivated individuals, and have people to lean on,” she said.
Lemire loved having the freedom of being able to work and go to school at the same time due to the more flexible schedule offered. “I also found that for the classes outside of the honors ones, we had people of all different creeds, races, socioeconomic statuses, religions, and, most importantly, ages, which gave me so many varied perspectives outside of my own little bubble. Growing up in a small town, I was very sheltered, and so community college gave me the opportunity to learn from so many different kinds of individuals and broaden my worldview,” she said. She originally wished she had the “typical” college experience like living in a dorm but now that she’s older she isn’t sad about it and doesn’t think she missed out at all.